Program Description


Low Residency MFA in Visual Studies logo

Level-up your career with the MFA-meets-Artist-Residency program featuring international faculty mentors. Rooted in critical investigation and self-disciplined creative practice, the Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies program is ideal for students who seek the challenge and community of an immersive graduate program with a flexible structure. This program is perfect for most working artists, teachers, and professionals seeking a graduate degree that fits with their current lifestyle.


This 60-credit graduate program combines 3 intensive on-site residencies with periods of mentor-supported distance learning.

For three consecutive summers, students gather in Portland to study with graduate faculty and an international roster of visiting artists, fostering dialogue and comradery while creating new work.

The program’s interdisciplinary emphasis spans studio and media arts, performance, writing, and community-engaged practices.

When not attending the summer residencies, each student in the program is thoughtfully paired with an experienced professional artist who will meet with the student and act as a mentor. This one-on-one relationship fosters a highly customized and individualized educational experience. The mentor-based experience encourages self-disciplined and boldly experimental creative practice, while supporting the individual student’s needs.

An installation of a slanted wood platform supported by a row of wood planks, art by Laura Foster

Studio Space

During the summer intensives, low-residency MFA students receive constant access to individual studio spaces  to make and store their work. Students have access to all the incredible facilities PNCA has to offer which includes tools, equipment, workstations, and production areas for painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture and furniture design, photography, animation, video and sound production, AR + VR, digital fabrication, game design, physical computing and interaction, illustration, textiles, and fashion at both the downtown Portland campus and in the glass building, a 25,000 sq ft former glass factory that houses workshop and fabrication spaces as well as graduate studios.

Take a virtual tour of our facilities.

Laura Foster working on an installation using wood materials and paint

Funding & Support

Click here for more information about funding and support or contact Graduate Admissions directly for individual advising.

Eligibility & Application

Statement of Purpose [500 -700 words]

Use this statement to address the focus of your work and the direction you wish to pursue in the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program. Discuss your reasons for applying to PNCA’s Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program and the artistic goals you wish to achieve during your time in the program. Be specific as to your focus of research and how you see this evolving or changing during your time in the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program. Describe the pathway you envision for yourself as part of the program. Discuss the issues, concerns and influences in your work.

Portfolio of 10-15 images

How to put together a strong portfolio for Low Residency Visual Studies

It is recommended that submitted work be recent and represent the applicant’s strongest work. We look for portfolios that show evidence of engagement in critical thought. This selection of work can be in a variety of disciplines and does not necessarily need to be a single, cohesive body of work. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the program, varied modes of making are understood and appreciated.

Find out more about our general graduate application requirements.

Meet with us!

For more information about the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies program, get in touch with Ryan Pierce

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